The First World War was a conflict of nightmare proportions, blighting the lives of many millions of people and significantly changing the course of history. After August 1914, truly, things could never be the same again.
It is impossible to come up with accurate figures of how many people died as a result of the ‘Great War’ but the consequences go far wider than even those millions who died because millions more were wounded and those who emerged physically unscathed were very likely to carry with them mental scars.
And yet in all the destruction and misery, another story emerges, that of the humanity and compassion shown by so many to others involved in the conflict, often to people who were officially regarded as enemies.
That is the main focus of this website; the stories of the ordinary soldiers who fought courageously, suffering many privations. And the story widens out to how their experiences affected them and their families down the years.
As an example of the ordinary soldier’s voice, these are the memoirs of Joseph Garvey, enlisted to the Scots Guards in 1907 and recalled at the outbreak of World War One. A veteran of the Battle of Marne, the Aisne and the First Battle of Ypres, he was captured by the Germans and spent four years as a prisoner of war in modern day Poland.
Tell us what you know about your relative. What do you or your family remember about him? Did he write anything either during or after the War about his experiences? Have you any photographs of him? If he survived, what happened to him? And please also Plant a Poppy.
Leave your tribute to a loved one by planting a poppy where they fought or fell.
The curved ceiling of the Menin Gate Memorial with the rebuilt town in the distance.
A detail of Panel 11 of the Memorial with Joe’s friend Fellowes among those without a grave.
Army map of 1st Ypres 29th October, 1914 – source, copy in the 'In Flanders Fields Museum', with permission. Where Joseph Garvey was captured is circled.